The Scientific Method, Modernism, and Postmodernism Revisited: A Reaction to Shephard (1999)

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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This paper is a reaction to Shephard’s (1999) criticism of the July 1998 special issue of the Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly on research assumptions. Shephard’s paper is essentially a defense of the use of the scientific method in adapted physical activity and a critique of his own understanding of the postmodern alternative. He argues that the scientific method is the method adapted physical activity researchers must privilege to know the truth. In this paper, it is argued that Shephard’s description of the scientific method is too general to be useful. In addition, he often confounds traditional modernist issues with postmodernist issues. His depiction of the postmodern alternative is too sketchy to be an adequate critique of the postmodern alternative. This paper highlights key issues unaddressed by Shephard and, as well, outlines some major postmodernist themes so that some of Shephard’s distortions can be corrected.

Marcel Bouffard is with the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2H9, Canada <marcel.bouffard@ualberta.ca>.

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